Microsoft Aids Kinect Hackers With Free SDK

Microsoft Aids Kinect Hackers With Free SDK

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In a tacit admission that hackers are doing some amazing things with its Kinect peripheral, Microsoft has released an official software development kit for the device.

Since its launch the Kinect has seen middling success as a games peripheral. It has sold reasonably well, but the number of quality games that utilize the gadget is depressingly low.

Still, the hacking community has taken to the thing like some kind of flying insect takes to whatever it likes to eat. Notable hacks include a Portugese project to aid wheelchair-bound shoppers, a Minecraft tie-in that turns images into in-game monuments and this futuristic motion-sensitive user interface.

That may all change with this morning's official release of the Kinect for Windows SDK.

Admittedly, the SDK is still in beta, but its very existence is a coup for the hacker community for two key reasons.

First, in releasing the SDK, Microsoft is lending implicit support to a community dedicated to altering the software giant's latest gadget. Given the hyper-litigious world we live in, and a games industry that traditionally guards its intellectual property with the fury of a rabid pitbull, this is a striking contrast to the very realistic possibility that Microsoft would instead sic its legion of lawyers on the hackers.

Second, even in its current beta form, the SDK offers tech geeks a huge leg up in developing new uses for the Kinect peripheral. Previously, prospective hackers were forced to circumvent the various protections in place in the device or its software, before they could actually start hacking the thing.

By contrast, the SDK essentially hands the gadget's blueprints to the community. As the kit's download page states, "The Kinect for Windows SDK beta is a programming toolkit for application developers. It enables the academic and enthusiast communities easy access to the capabilities offered by the Microsoft Kinect device connected to computers running the Windows 7 operating system."

"The Kinect for Windows SDK beta includes drivers, rich APIs for raw sensor streams and human motion tracking, installation documents, and resource materials. It provides Kinect capabilities to developers who build applications with C++, C#, or Visual Basic by using Microsoft Visual Studio 2010," it adds.

Full details on the SDK can be found on the kit's download page, and those of you hoping to create your own inventive uses for the system, can nab the SDK in both 32- and 64-bit iterations.

It should go without saying, but the SDK is only available to Windows users.

Source: Giant Bomb

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Ten quid says Microsoft released this with one eye on industrial applications for Kinect's hardware.

It does seem to have stalled a bit as a gaming device, but if M.soft can have people developing systems that mean they can sell Kinect (or Kinect based hardware) to other manufacturers and industries, well, money.

Cheap 3-dimensional infrared imaging systems available to the public, that's a big deal!

Well if They Cant Make there Money Using it as a Gaming Device, i Suppose adding these tools in for People to start using It in new and Interesting Ways will help, Also a major Pr Stunt i think, also gives there Legal Department a Rest on the matter

what was that people said about microsoft being evil? yeah, thank you.

this just shows microsoft really acknowledges that there is a hacking community and shows their support for homebrew.

Can't help but feel this is gonna come with a 900 page legal document that basically says "Anything you create which we like belongs to us."

Though I await the chance to be pleasantly surprised.

Yay I love free SDK! Always something to play with.

Azaraxzealot:
what was that people said about microsoft being evil? yeah, thank you.

this just shows microsoft really acknowledges that there is a hacking community and shows their support for homebrew.

And that's why they don't get hacked themselves...hehe

OT: This is awesome, +1 respect to Microsoft!

One suspects that this is because they've realised that the gamer's don't give a toss, so they're going to encourage the experimentation and hacking.

Or not, maybe. They might be genuinely just being nice.

Non commercial SDK. Good start, but guessing the commercial version that will show up soon will have hefty licensing/royalty fees.

Still. Good move on MS side. Supporting the modders scene always improves the lifespan of products and gives a free promotion. People love to come up with free, crazy projects.

To those of you that think M$ is just being nice, read this:

fix-the-spade:
Ten quid says Microsoft released this with one eye on industrial applications for Kinect's hardware.

It does seem to have stalled a bit as a gaming device, but if M.soft can have people developing systems that mean they can sell Kinect (or Kinect based hardware) to other manufacturers and industries, well, money.

Cheap 3-dimensional infrared imaging systems available to the public, that's a big deal!

They released the SDK so that people who like to make and use homebrew stuff will buy it and use it. I think this means that they're desperate to make the damn thing succeed. With this move, it's possible they might do just that.

And if something useful/popular comes out on homebrew, you can bet your bottom national currency that they're going to rip that shit off, give it a nice new interface, and sell it for something.

Regardless of their intentions, it is still quite surprising and some decent news. I'm sure there are tons of people who will be absolutely thrilled to hear this.

Good on MS for this. I think as a gamping peripheral the Kinect was doomed from the start because no major publisher is going to make Kinect-only A list games because too many people dont have one.

If this means the Kinect can survive on its own merits it might re-energize the Xbox market for it too.

The cynical part of me is thinking about the fact that they make around $100 profit per kinect device sold, but they didn't have to go out of their way to support this (Which is a lot more costly than you might think for a company, take it from me).

It's a huge distance apart from what everyone else seems to be doing, and I hope it catches on.

Wasn't this announced like a few months ago? Because I remember talking with some comp sci friends about getting a kinect when we heard it had the SDK out (and this was in like April/May).

...Huh, wasn't expecting this. Good karma for them, I suppose. I'm sure there are ulterior motives, but that doesn't really stop it from being a cool thing to do. Ofcourse people will still probably bitch and moan, since it is microsoft and they can do no good, clearly.

This was announced months ago, and things really weren't as grim as the article would have you believe (there were a couple of open source SDKs available already), it is nice to have an official SDK now. The open source ones did have some problems, and the Microsoft should really help with that, so I'm excited.

I never really understood why they released the Kinect as a gaming peripheral in the first place, given that there is so much that can be done with this outside of gaming.

Hey, get on the Hackers side.

I think their trying to avoid what happened to Sony by just making them seam hacker friendly.

Azaraxzealot:
what was that people said about microsoft being evil? yeah, thank you.

this just shows microsoft really acknowledges that there is a hacking community and shows their support for homebrew.

Except people who tend to be interested in this sort of tech aren't normally using Windows...

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Marcan42 is the guy that first cracked the PS3 which enabled Geohot to do what he did. Not sure who qDot is though. That was just a retweet by Marcan42. These guys are going to whatever they want with it whether MS likes it or not. And the fact that if you create something, MS owns the full license to it is pretty fucking retarded. People don't have to pay MS when they write a program for Windows otherwise no one would make them, at least not legally anyways. Same goes with Kinect.

They may have done this purely out of a good decision, appeasing a community that is doing some awesome stuff, oooor with the recent attacks on PSN and Sony they were worried that annoying a hacking community might just bring down the faceless onslaught. Either way still a rare thing from microsoft, who love their money.

Isalan:
Can't help but feel this is gonna come with a 900 page legal document that basically says "Anything you create which we like belongs to us."

That doesn't sound like the Micrsosoft I know. Requiring a huge licensing fee? Sure. Claiming ownership of other people's creations? Nah. Even Apple doesn't take it that far. I could even see them being fine with people continuing to hack their own solutions without the SDK, just like anyone can create and sell an app for Windows with or without Visual Studio. At the end of the day, this is most likely about moving units. They have enough experience with Windows to know that keeping a system relatively open to development keeps the system popular.

Isalan:
Can't help but feel this is gonna come with a 900 page legal document that basically says "Anything you create which we like belongs to us."

Though I await the chance to be pleasantly surprised.

Sorry, but that chance is gone. MAKE Magazine Blog article: "Things You CAN'T Do With The Microsoft Kinect SDK"

Phillip Torrone: Things You CAN'T Do With The Microsoft Kinect SDK:
Things You CAN'T Do With The Microsoft Kinect SDK: You can't start a business, make money, sell services or consulting, it's all non-commercial and in my opinion, a dead-end for most/all developers.

Microsoft Kinect SDK FAQ:
Can I use the SDK Beta to build applications that are used in-house in running my business, so long as I do not share them with my customers?
No. Under the terms of the license for this SDK Beta, you cannot deploy applications created with the SDK Beta for use in your business operations. Even if no fee is charged or received in connection with such use, such use in a business is still a commercial use and is not permitted under the SDK Beta license.

I saw the clever use of the Kinect sensor with a PC in a department store window. Can I create an application to use as a showpiece for customers who visit my store?
You may publicly display applications you create with the SDK Beta so long as it otherwise complies with the terms of the SDK Beta license agreement, including its restrictions on commercial use. Under the terms of the SDK Beta license, you cannot receive payment in connection with your application, use your application for advertising, use your application to solicit donations, or use your application in your internal business operations. Also, because this is a free, public beta, and it is broadly available, Microsoft is not necessarily aware of all uses that licensees are making of the the SDK Beta. Accordingly, you should not assume that any particular use you see is allowed under the SDK Beta license.

It's cool that after 6 months of the open source community making amazing things Microsoft wants to join this party, but you're coming to our house and the house rules were built on open source licensing - which means commercial use is allowed.

It's unclear if someone would even be allowed to show their cool projects with the Microsoft SDK online and have ads on their pages, that too could be considered commercial use.

At least Microsoft can't just look at your projects and do anything they want with them. Oh wait... Read this:

Microsoft Kinect SDK Licensing Agreement:
d. License to Modifications. If you make modifications to the Sample Code and make those modifications public in source code, text, or any other descriptive (non-binary) format, you give to Microsoft, without charge, the right to use, share, and commercialize those modifications in any way and for any purpose.

Why would anyone want to use the Microsoft SDK when the open source drivers are out there and you can build a business and company around them? AND use them with non-Windows system (yah, that's part of the license too, you cannot: "(4) use it with a platform other than a Windows platform.").

Microsoft would not even be doing a SDK if the open source community didn't completely dominate all the "wow, Kinect is amazing" headlines from the open source / hack projects for the last 6 months.

And the hackers and makers proclaimed in the streets: "do not want!"

 

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